Ag News

U.S. House and Senate ag committees release farm bills

by Jay Stone

Posted on May 03, 2024 at 10:38 AM


On May 1, the agriculture committees of both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate released their drafts of the next farm bill, along with summaries of the bills’ provisions.

When Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) leaders visited Washington, D.C., April 9-11, they conveyed the organization’s stances on the commodities, conservation and crop insurance provisions in the farm bill.

The 2018 farm bill has been extended and is set to expire Sept. 30.

What follows is GFB’s points of emphasis and what the committees say about how their bill handles those topics.

Commodity programs

GFB maintains that commodity programs like Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) from the 2018 farm bill, which provide protection from substantial drops in revenue, are vital economic tools to support the nation’s food and fiber needs. Additionally, commodity reference prices established in those programs should increase to account for rising farm production costs.

According to the farm bill summary from House Ag Committee Republicans, their commodity title reauthorizes and enhances commodity, marketing loan, sugar, dairy, and disaster programs. This includes increased support for the PLC and ARC to account for persistent inflation and rising costs of production.

The House bill also:

• Provides authority to expand base acres to include producers who currently cannot participate in ARC/PLC.

• Modernizes marketing loans and sugar policy. 

• Bolsters dairy programs to continue providing vital assistance.

• Enhances standing disaster programs and expands eligibility for assistance.

According to the farm bill summary from the Senate Ag Committee Democrats, their commodity title:

• Makes improvements to the Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) program  that target active farmers and creates a new “escalator” provision that increases support based on the cost of production;

• Builds on this success by improving the PLC escalator formula for all commodities, makes targeted statutory reference price changes, and brings PLC in line with ARC by establishing a payment band on PLC payments. Under the bill, all major covered commodities will see at least a 5% increase in reference prices during the 2024 Farm Bill, with many seeing 10-15% increases;

• The bill lowers the ARC threshold for triggering payments for all covered commodities to provide more certainty to farmers when their revenue drops due to low prices or weather disasters;  

Conservation programs

GFB asserts that lawmakers should prioritize maintaining and adequately funding programs such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) all serve to help producers and landowners address natural resource concerns.

In addition, the process for NRCS conservation practice approval needs to be streamlined.

According to the House Ag Committee Republicans, their conservation title:

• Reallocates Inflation Reduction Act conservation funding and expands covered conservation practices; 

• Protects and enhances working lands conservation programs like the EQIP and CSP while promoting precision agriculture;

• Includes common-sense easement reforms and protects working forest lands through the newly authorized Forest Conservation Easement Program (FCEP). 

• Streamlines and improves program administration for the RCPP and the Technical Service Provider Program (TSP),

• Modernizes the CRP by incentivizing enrollment of marginal lands and emphasizing state partnerships;

• Reauthorizes and funds successful programs such as the Feral Swine Eradication Program and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).

• Emphasizes science, technology, and innovation, including within the conservation practice standards establishment and review processes.

According the Senate Ag Committee Democrats’ conference report their conservation title:


• Increases the maximum amount of enrolled acres in the CRP program from 24 million to 27 million acres for each year. Targets the program based on state historic enrollment rates.  Aligns the program with market expectations by capping the rental rate for both general and continuous enrollments and limits cost-share and incentive payments under the program;

• Provides additional flexibilities for the use of haying and grazing activities on enrolled acres;  

• Targets the enrollment of marginal and environmentally sensitive land in the program;

• Authorizes and gives priority to a new water quality initiative;

• Improves and authorizes the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP);

• Continues support for beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by providing $50 million for the Transition Incentives Program. 


• Provides additional funding for FY2019-FY2023 as follows: $l.75 billion, $1.75 billion, $1.80 billion, $1.850 billion, and $2.03 billion;

• Maintains the program’s role of helping agricultural producers to meet Federal, state and local regulatory requirements;

• Includes new conservation incentive contracts within the program to address priority resource concerns;

• Allows for certain entities to be eligible for implementing water conservation or irrigation practices under a watershed-wide project;

• Continues the function and flexibility of EQIP to address multiple natural resource concerns and agriculture production types;

• Sets the program’s livestock allocation at 50 percent, expands it to include grazing practices, and increases the wildlife allocation to 10 percent. 


• Provides funding for FY2019-FY2023 as follows: $700 million, $725 million, $750 million, $800 million and $1.0 billion.

• Includes administrative reforms to the program to work in conjunction with EQIP;

• Adds cover crops, advanced grazing management, resource-conserving crop rotations, and grassland;

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

• Provides increased funding of $450 million for each FY2019-2023 increasing program funding over $2.0 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years;

• Provides modifications to increase the flexibility and execution of both the Agriculture Land Easement and Wetland Reserve Easement portions of the program;


• Provides $300 million per year in mandatory funding. Through partnerships, the Federal investment will leverage nearly $3.0 billion in private funding for conservation over the next 10 years. 

• Encourages partnerships to leverage Federal resources to carry out innovative conservation projects at the local or regional level to address water quality and quantity issues. 

• Provides administrative flexibilities to deliver the program more efficiently and effectively to address natural resource concerns like water quality and drought.   

Providing Producers Certainty and Regulatory Relief: 

• Provides producers certainty with regard to working lands and wildlife conservation practices by continuing the Working Lands for Wildlife model of conservation.  Ensures that a landowner, who voluntarily maintains certain wildlife practices for species habitat, receives protections under the Endangered Species Act.    

Crop insurance programs

GFB encourages members of Congress to support efforts to expand insurance to specialty crops and examine ways in which to encourage swifter adoption of policies.

GFB also emphasizes the need for a permanent disaster program to protect producers against natural disasters.

According to the farm bill summary from House Ag Committee Republicans, their crop insurance title:

• Expands premium assistance for beginning farmers and farmers who are military veterans;

• Directs research and development of new policies and establishes an advisory committee for more robust engagement with specialty crop producers;

• Enhances certain coverage options to reduce the need for unbudgeted ad hoc disaster assistance;

• Bolsters the private sector delivery system.

The Senate Ag Committee Democrats’ conference report on crop insurance title:

• Allows producers to establish a single enterprise unit by combining enterprise units across counties, or enterprise units with basic units and optional units in one or more other counties;  

• Clarifies conditions for voluntary conservation practices, including cover crops, to be considered as good farming practices for crop insurance purposes and requires continuing education for loss adjusters and agents regarding conservation activities and agronomic practices; 

• Updates the role of the Specialty Crop Coordinator and requires a Specialty Crop Liaison in each regional office. Requires the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board to annually review research and development of insurance for new crops, expansion of existing insurance to additional counties or states, and crops with existing insurance. Requires data collected through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program be provided for improving crop insurance coverage;  

• Permits separate crop insurance policies for crops that can be both grazed and mechanically harvested on the same acres during the same growing season. Provides that such separate policies can be independently indemnified for different causes of loss covered by these programs and for each intended use;

• Clarifies that the reductions in benefits for native sod acreage that has been tilled apply to any insurable crops. Further clarifies that the reduction in benefits would apply for not more than four cumulative years during the first ten years after initial tillage. 

To see the House farm bill summary, click here.

To see the Senate farm bill conference report, click here.

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